- Honour Roll
Born in 1944, Jean Taylor grew up in Mildura. She married and had three children. In the early 1970's, influenced by feminism, she began to reconstruct her life. She returned to study gaining her Higher School Certificate through the Council of Adult Education, won a place at La Trobe University and graduated in Arts in 1976.
While she was a student, Jean was a member of the La Trobe Women's Group. Over this period she ended her marriage. In 1972 she joined the Brunswick Consciousness Raising Group and from that time became committed to feminist activism. She worked as a volunteer at Melbourne's first refuge, the Women's Liberation Half Way House (197276), at the Women's Liberation Centre (1974-76), the Women's Liberation Switchboard (1979-92), and was instrumental in setting up the Matilda Women's Refuge in 1978.
During this time she constantly wrote and under the pseudonym Emily George, Jean published 18 books as well as novellas, plays and poetry. Jean came out as a lesbian in 1979 and in 1984 she established Dykebooks to enable the lesbian community to have full control of their own writing and publishing.
Jean Taylor has a longstanding relationship with the Brunswick Aboriginal community and runs racism awareness workshops. A founding member of the Women's Circus in 1991, she performed with the Circus for several years, travelling to Beijing in 1995. Jean became the founding director of the Performing Older Women's Circus in 1995.
When Jean's partner, Maureen O'Connor, was diagnosed with ovarian cancer, Jean established the Lesbian Cancer Support Group in 1996 and began to raise awareness of the higher-than-average risk of cancer in the lesbian community. Jean cared for Maureen during the final years of her life. The book she subsequently wrote about her experiences, The C Word, was published by Spinifex Press in 2000.
Jean Taylor's commitment to activism on behalf of women has been unstinting. The kind of grassroots activity she has engaged in is an essential part of community vitality.